The workplace is changing in the modern age, so is the organisational structure. Having an authority in top management team doesn’t mean you have a superpower to influence your team. In fact, influencing in the workplace has nothing to do with authority especially if you are working in a flat organisational structure, where only the best idea or strategy wins. This means you need to develop influencing tactics to convince people with your ideas in order to achieve your goals. (Here, influencing refers to the process of having an impact on other people.)
Consider this example, you are a manager in a reputed organisation. You come up with great ideas that have the potential to create more business opportunities for your company. So, how do you influence your co-workers to work on your ideas?
In his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Dr. Robert Cialdini, outlines six basic principles of influence based on his decades of research work. Here, we outline basic influencing techniques from his book that you can use today, to become a skilled persuader.
The idea of reciprocity is one of the basic principles of influencing people. In other words, people would like to return the favor if you have done something nice for them. For instance, if a friend invites you to the party, you are more likely to invite them to the party you are hosting. In social context, people are more likely to say yes to those people who have helped them in the past.
Maya Angelou once quoted , “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Basically, what she is referring to is the idea of reciprocity, that is still relevant in today’s context to grow influence on people. So, the key to using reciprocity is to be the first to give others without any expectations.
Do the favors who are in need, give others gifts (the size or price of gifts doesn’t matter), treat people with respect, just to name a few. Moreover, if you are running an organisation, appreciate your team members and give public recognition for their talents, in return they are more likely to return the favour to you in an unexpected way. It may be an increase in productivity, rise in sales or even reaching your organisational goals and much more.
Consistency is crucial for influencing people. If you execute your task with full commitment, consistently, eventually you will build trust and reliability among people. Having consistency on your work gives a good impression about you to people and making it easier to build influence on them.
On the other side, if your action shows unpredictability, people are less likely to rely or trust you. This is because human beings are hardwired to stay consistent to the things that they have previously said or done.
So how do you use consistency principle for influencing people? Be a consistent performer. Actively commit to your written or spoken words. If possible, make your commitments public so that many people witness your commitment which enforces you to be consistent in your work. Furthermore, if you are managing an organisation, always set consistent expectations with your employees. Give consistent rewards for their good work.
Social proof refers to psychological phenomenon where people rely on social influence to make decisions. Especially, when people are uncertain or indecisive, they tend to view their behaviour as more correct when they see other people doing it. For example,
We buy products endorsed by celebrities or influencer we admire because we want to look like them or be like them.
We seek product reviews or product rating on review sites as a social proof because someone/expert has already used, experienced or endorsed the product or service.
So if you want to influence people in your workplace, you need to walk your talk. Let’s say you want your employees to be punctual, then you need to always arrive on time at your workplace to set an example. You want your employees to be confident in their roles, then you need to show confidence in your role as a leader or manager in your organisation.
People want more of those things that are scarce. People tend to perceive high value to rare things and they want more. In other words, it's similar to the law of supply and demand.
So when it comes to influencing others using the scarcity principle, it’s not enough to simply tell people about the benefits of using your products or services, you have to pinpoint it’s uniqueness too, so that people have higher perceived value. Another approach is making exclusive offer, limited time offer to create a sense of urgency, and create a positive influence about your products/services. In the workplace, you can apply “loss framing” techniques to communicate your message to your employees. The loss framing creates the feeling of scarcity, and influence their behaviour as human beings are wired to avoid pain than seek gain.
People are influenced by people they like. It’s a simple, yet, one of the most effective influencing techniques that you can apply to persuade people. In his book, Cladini list out three important factors behind the principle of liking.
We like people who are similar to us.
We like people who give us good compliments.
We like people who cooperate with us toward mutual goals.
There are many ways you can use this principle of liking in your workplace. Similarities increase human connection so you can identify similarities in your team members to build rapport and have an influence on them. Similarly, you can give compliments and praise employees publicly in the workplace. The other approach is getting your team work together in a project (something fun), they are probably going to like each other.
We think experts are more knowledgeable than us in their area of specialization. That’s why we trust products or services recommended by experts. Doctors, for example are able to persuade their patients to comply with recommended treatments and medication because they are the authoritative figure, experts in their profession. In other words, when you are perceived as experts in your field, then you are more likely to have an influence upon others.
How can you establish an authority to influence people? You can convey your authority by letting people know about your background, this might be your education experience, credentials, awards and certifications. Besides, you can convey short anecdote when you are having a conversation with people. Another way to establish authority in your industry is collaborating with other experts in your industry. For example, having an expert on social media event, let’s say an Instagram story featured by experts or having an expert on your Instagram story creates a positive influence upon the followers.
We live in the information age, where new ideas matter more than ever.
As human beings made continuous progress through stone age to information age, all those advancements in history happens due to human capability of convincing others to take action on their ideas. In other words, the art of influencing hasn’t changed, and the power of influence gives humans a competitive edge to evolve faster into the modern world. If you master the six major influencing skills, and do it the right way, you will reap the benefits
At SAIM College, we take it upon ourselves to teach our students the soft skills, beyond the classroom activities. We are dedicated to sharing valuable information and preparing our students to thrive in the real world after graduation. Our BBA and MBA programs provide students with a sound conceptual foundation and practical skills in various areas of management and prepare them for the global market.